Radical ballot proposals in Western states would criminalize meat production, reduce healthy food sources, and harm public health

Oct 11, 2021

Key Findings

1. Recent ballot initiatives in Colorado and Oregon would criminalize hunting, fishing, and the raising of livestock. These ballot initiatives have the potential to disassociate children with where their food comes from.

2. Ballot initiatives that seek to inflict the petitioner’s worldview on an entire state often have unintended consequences.

3. Criminalizing the harvesting of meat would make adults involved in homesteading, hunting, fishing, 4-H, and FFA guilty of providing experiential learning for youth and a misdemeanor.

4. Criminalizing activities that are already prohibited under state law only hurts the people who are already following the law.

5. Hunting and fishing are often generational traditions.

6. Meat consumption can contribute to a healthy diet.

7. Meat production provides an abundant, nutrient-dense protein source for low-income families.


Meat is central to many family meals and is a cornerstone for some of the biggest holiday observances in the United States. Fourth of July BBQs, turkey with a Thanksgiving feast, and beef during winter holidays are all examples of the relationship people have with meat. Not only does meat provide essential nutrients that are harder to find in vegetarian or vegan diets, but it also provides an inexpensive protein source for low-income families.

Meat is a core contributor to human health. Meat is a good source of iron, which provides hemoglobin and enables oxygen circulation throughout the body. Meat provides essential minerals and vitamins during pregnancy, promoting healthy brain, organ, and muscle development. Meat provides zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and selenium, which support tissue connection and a strong cardiovascular system.

Meat is a natural source of vitamin B-12, which is essential to the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. A diet moderate in meat helps the body store vitamin D and promotes bone strength, growth, and density. Meat is a key source of protein, promoting muscle development, physical mobility and healthy skin, the body’s primary barrier against disease.

The raising and harvesting of meat often are a generational experiential learning opportunity. Hunting in the autumnal months usually includes parents and children scouting the land for game; a tradition with its roots in Native American and Western pioneer cultures. In many cases, hunting is still observed as a rite of passage for children by bringing them closer to where their food comes from.

Similarly, the raising of livestock by families is often a generational endeavor that emphasizes conscious animal husbandry and gratitude for the food the livestock provide. Livestock raised for meat, spend the first seven to 12 months of their lives on the ranches where they are born. Approximately 96 percent of farms and ranches in the United States are owned by families, meaning most livestock raised for meat spends up to the first year of its life in the care of a family. Modern, humane practices and changes in cultural attitudes have consistently improved the treatment of animals raised for food.

Read the full Policy Note here.

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